When faced with the dilemma of sending Catherine to school on a Full-Time basis (which would include recess, lunch and naps) versus a Part-Time basis (going home at 11:30am), we asked if the tuition could be pro-rated to reflect a gradual increase of time spent there each day.
We thought a gradual introduction to school beginning with a Part-Time schedule would be best and that she would eventually communicate her willingness and/or desire to spend more time at school as she develops relationships and a respective comfort level. They agreed so long as her pick-up times were during windows that would not be disruptive to the other childrens’ routines.
With the exception of a few days at her grandparent’s and a few nights in hotels, Catherine hadn’t once taken a nap outside of our home. Although we realized that it would happen…we certainly didn’t want to be married to a date by which it would happen. Even the thought that she would be lying down for a nap in a strange place was so incredible to imagine that it made me laugh nervously at the teacher's mere mention of it.
So we’re opted to gradually bring her into the waters of Montessori like a bagged goldfish into a new tank . Not that we thought the sudden climate change might have killed her…kids seem pretty pliable and resilient. This gradual introduction served more as psychological transition time for us than for her.
A few days later we brought a blanket and Pillow to school with us. The goal was for her to see more of her things there and simply get comfortable with the idea that she could take a nap there if she was so inclined. When I arrived to pick her up at 1:30 yesterday, her teacher Mrs.Berry rushed to greet me with a finger held against her lips. She whispered: “Catherine came in from recess and was so excited to take a nap in her spot that she was actually the first one to lay down!” I asked if I could take a peek through the double-sided mirror and she quietly walked me over. There I could see the my little girl's golden locks peeking out from under a blanket covering her little body with her legs tucked-up under her. Catherine was twirling her hair with one hand while the other was softly tucked for suckling in her mouth. Mrs. Will (her other teacher) was gently, rythmically, rubbing her back. Suddenly I felt like “this was it”. Like it was all about to come to an end…. I was immediately struck with the heaviness that accompanies a sad farewell in my heart. I suddenly realized that I was going to find her doing more and more without me. Growing up and being magical with other people and I wouldn’t be there to see it...to even hear what she was saying. I fought back a tear…partly of joy and partly of sadness. I drove back home and imagined the joy of relishing something ordinary and mundane with her in the future... like a game of basketball in the driveway after not seeing her for so long. Like Steve Martin in Parenthood only backwards….instead of my eyes welling up from recalling images of her childhood, I was lost, only for a moment, in realizing that her "growing-up" meant relying less on me.